“Before the Coffee Gets Cold” will heat up your book shelf

Pictured is the cover of Before the Coffee Gets Cold. It features some decor within the Japanese cafe, Funiculi Funicula.

Photo Credit: Official Before the Coffee Gets Cold book cover

Pictured is the cover of Before the Coffee Gets Cold. It features some decor within the Japanese cafe, Funiculi Funicula.

By: Dylan DaCunha, Editor-in-Chief

Japanese author Toshikazu Kawaguchi is an award-winning playwright with various works including “COUPLE”, “Sunset Song”, and “family time”. “Before the Coffee Gets Cold” marked his debut as an author and has since become a beautiful story. The novel ponders the age-old question, “What would you change if you could go back in time?”

“Before the Coffee Gets Cold”

Set in a back alley in Tokyo is a small coffee shop named Funiculi Funicula. The cafe is in a basement with no windows which gives the atmosphere an eery feel. The shop is centuries old with an interesting rumor surrounding it: one can time travel in the shop. The cafe had gotten much attention in years prior from tourists trying to see if they too could time travel. However, they didn’t do it correctly which made the general public believe it was just a myth. The novel focuses on the stories of four people who successfully time-traveled in order to revisit their pasts. However, they had to follow a detailed set of rules in order to properly go back in time; otherwise, they’d be ghosts bound to the cafe until the next person incorrectly time travels. The major rule is that one must return before their coffee gets cold.


This book is a favorite as it incorporates many themes such as romance, family, and mystery. All of the cafe-goers that successfully travel each learn a valuable lesson after their journey. These lessons can all be translated into the lives of the readers, which makes “Before the Coffee Gets Cold” that much more appealing. However, in real life time travel is not possible. So, these lessons essentially teach the reader to value what they have in the present because it may be gone in the future.

Kawaguchi’s writing in “Before the Coffee Gets Cold” creates a constant feeling of both uneasiness and suspense in each chapter. However, there is a release of tension and a feeling of closure at the end of each chapter after a character returns from their time-traveling trip. Kawaguchi writes with extreme detail which makes the reader feel immersed in the world of Funiculi Funicula. This makes readers feel more engaged with the story and keep them focused. There is never a dull moment within the novel because of this hyper attention to detail. The novel often flips back and forth between current-day actions and memories of characters. This provides readers with great insight into what they are reading about and makes each chapter that much more heartwarming at its conclusion. “Before the Coffee Gets Cold” is the first in a three-book series that tells about the time-traveling journeys within Funiculi Funicula.

“Before the Coffee Gets Cold” was so well-received in Japan that it was developed into a movie there in 2018. However, in 2021 SK Global and the Jackal Group announced that a television series adaptation of the novel was in the works.


“Before the Coffee Gets Cold” and Toshikazu Kawaguchi has won several awards due to the novel’s literary merit. The novel is a USA Today Bestseller and a Times of London Bestseller. It has remained the number-one bestseller for International Fiction in the United Kingdom bookseller Waterstones for the past 23 months. It has remained on Italy’s bestseller list for 82 weeks.